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Gardener's herb hack ensures strawberries taste extra sweet - and protects from pests

As lovely as shop-bought strawberries can be, there's nothing quite like growing your own, and if you're very lucky, you'll end up with enough to see you right through the summer.

From jugs of Pimm's to bowls of refreshing ice cream, strawberries make for the perfect accompaniment to many of your favourite summer treats, and you can save plenty by growing them in your back garden.

Thankfully, you don't have to have Alan Titchmarsh's skills when it comes to growing strawberries, which are fairly easy to grow and take care of.

If you want to take things to the next level, however, there are some tricks and tips you can try to get a flourishing bush bursting with so many luscious, juicy strawberries that you'll be offering them out to the neighbours.

In a bid to find out how to grow enough strawberries for the full 14 days of Wimbledon, the Mirror spoke with Holly Tyers, a gardening expert who runs the seed subscription service, Can I Dig It?

Green-fingered Holly, who has been passionate about growing fruit and veg since her childhood days helping out in her dad's allotment has advised fellow gardeners how they too can get a bumper crop of strawberries.

Holly said: "Strawberries are hardy little plant. They require little maintenance and every year, will provide you with babies that you can grow even more strawberries from.

"But if you want an epic harvest this year, make sure you give them a healthy dollop of well-rotted manure. This will accelerate plant growth, which equals more strawberries."

She continued: "If you don't want to feed the local birds, you need to net your strawberries, or there won't be any for you.

"The plants should be safe from frost damage now, but any flowers on your plants that have a black centre will have been nipped by the frost and not produce a strawberry. So you might as well cut it off.

"After the plant has grown some strawberries, it will crack on with making more plants. Which is a bit inconvenient, when you want it to make more strawberries! Chop off most of these 'runners' and you might get a delicious second harvest."

The clever fruit and veg guru has also shared her top tip for a sweeter taste, advising gardening fans to grow borage next to strawberries, hailing this as the perfect companion plant.

For those unfamiliar with borage - a plant that is sometimes romantically referred to as a starflower - this nifty herb is said to be a fantastic deterrent when it comes to keeping away the pesky pests that could otherwise end up blighting your fruit.

Many gardeners also anecdotally report that borage helps to improve the flavour of your strawberries, giving them an even sweeter, sunnier taste.

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